Surface Interval, Flavours of Solitude: A Culinary Journey with Ibu Saminem

A highlight feature from A Legacy of Hospitality: The Value of Family and Solitude Lembeh Resort.

Let me to introduce you to Ibu Saminem Suhadak, affectionately referred to as Ibu Saminem, a talented cook at the Solitude Lembeh Resort located in the village of Jikoaras. Ibu Saminem has lived in Jikoaras with her family for 36 years. Her husband earns a living as a squid fisherman, while her children have also found their passions in the local community. One child has become a dive guide, another a dive master, and the third has followed Ibu Saminem’s lead and become a cook. Their family’s presence and contributions have undoubtedly left a lasting impact on the community. When not working, Ibu Saminem enjoys farming in her garden, where she grows kitchen herbs, bananas, cassava, and taro.

In 2004, Ibu Saminem joined Kasawari Resort and stayed on when it was transformed into the new Solitude Lembeh Resort. Initially, she began as a kitchen helper, but it was her former chef who taught her the art of cooking, which she grew to love. Ibu Saminem has pleasant memories of Nuprapat Snidvongs, the owner of Kasawari Resort, who treated his employees with kindness. Despite the language barrier, he would share Thai food recipes with her and use gestures to ensure that the kitchen staff understood him. Ibu Saminem is grateful for his efforts to bridge the communication gap and show a genuine interest in his employees’ well-being. She also values the current management team at Solitude World, who have made an effort to communicate in the local language. Ibu Saminem appreciates the creative freedom she has in the kitchen, while emphasising the importance of discipline.

Ibu Saminen, has been with the resort from its early days, is a treasure trove of insight into its growth and evolution.

She remembers the time when she first relocated to the area, describing it as a time when there were vast stretches of jungle and no resorts. She believes that the establishment of Kasawari and Solitude has had a beneficial impact on the community. The resorts have created employment opportunities for the locals and treated them with respect, providing a consistent source of income for the community. During the pandemic, Solitude’s decision to keep all employees on half-time instead of laying them off was a standout moment, providing much-needed stability and support during uncertain times.

Ibu Saminem is especially fond of the renovated Solitude Lembeh Resort, particularly due to the restaurant’s ground floor location, which fosters smooth communication between the guests and the kitchen staff. She describes a typical day in the kitchen for her involves preparing ingredients, cooking, and washing dishes, with occasional deep cleaning during idle times. For her, food quality preservation largely depends on the kitchen’s cleanliness, which is of utmost importance. 

“Cleanliness is very important to preserve the quality in the food.”

Ibu Saminem takes pride in her specialty dish – Tom Yum and Thai rice soup with group pork, which is also a personal favorite of Kit’s and Andrew’s, the directors of Solitude World. Despite catering to guests from diverse backgrounds worldwide, she makes a conscious effort to please everyone’s taste buds while maintaining the authenticity of the local cuisine and offering appealing dishes for the Western palate.

Buffet option at Solitude Lembeh Resort

For nearly two decades, Ibu Saminem has been a valued member of the Kasawari Solitude family. During this time, she has come to deeply appreciate the balance between discipline and creative freedom that the management team has afforded her. Such an environment is incredibly motivating for her.

Ibu Saminem encourages guests to embrace the local cuisine and try more of it, particularly those passionate about diving and good food. She urges them not to shy away from trying the local cuisine, as she knows how to prepare it to their liking. Her message to guests who share her passion for diving and good food is, “Don’t be afraid to try the local cuisine, as Ibu Saminem knows how to cook it the way you like it.”

Ibu Saminem’s culinary talent and passion have made her an indispensable member of the Solitude Lembeh Resort team. Her dedication to authenticity and quality ensures that guests have an unforgettable dining experience. With her encouragement, guests can explore and appreciate the flavours of the local cuisine.